We recently took a family vacation to New Orleans. We all got hotels right in the French Quarter. Normally, this would be pretty awesome. But normally I am not pregnant. And let me tell you all this – New Orleans is not the city for pregnant people. At 5 p.m. when most people are getting off of work and just hitting the bars, most of New Orleans is passed out puking in the streets from drinking all day long. Also, New Orleans is crowded and humid! I took about three baths a day to just rinse the sweat off. Despite all this I love New Orleans. It’s a city with a personality, a smell and a sound. But does it have a taste??? While most people automatically say Cajun, New Orleans has a very innovative and at times sophisticated palate these days.
That being said our first stop on the New Orleans road trip was a stop at Bourbon Street Cafe in Jennings, Louisiana – a casino/truck stop/Cajun restaurant. This place might have been the culinary highlight of our trip. It just goes to show you that sometimes the best stuff comes in the most surprising packages. The gumbo was amazing – big chunks of flavorful, dark meat chicken and loads of smoked sausage. On the side were rice and a very tasty potato salad.
We also ordered a shrimp po boy which came with a side of sweet potato fries. Both were very good, but it can be hard to mess up fried foods. I would recommend this place just for the gumbo alone!
Once we arrived in New Orleans we had dinner reservations at a highly recommended restaurant called Jacques-Imo’s Cafe. I thought the restaurant had a lot of character and about 3/4 of the table loved their meal. I unfortunately was a part of that 1/4 that did not.
It started off great with a complimentary plate of their delicious garlic, corn muffins. You could feel the butter on your hands – pretty awesome. For me it started going down hill with the salad.
I love salads. I really do. This salad was gross. It was essentially spinach (awesome!) topped with Worcestershire sauce. That was it. I had two bites.
My father and I ordered the grouper. Which he liked. I was disappointed. The description of the grouper did not mention that it was covered in a cream sauce. I really enjoy simple fish dishes, especially with a fish as yummy as grouper. Eric, my sister’s boyfriend ordered a lamb dish with red wine that was fantastic. My husband and sister ordered the soft shell crab special atop friend green tomatoes. They both loved it. My mom ordered an eggplant dish that was sub par, very salty and topped with a too rich cream sauce.
All in all people are going to tell you how great this place is, I say take that with a grain of salt. But give it a try.
The next morning we all got up to get some beignets at Cafe du Monde. Well, so did everybody else in New Orleans. So we picked a close by brunch place called Stanley, it is also in Jackson Square. I loved Stanley. It was a simple brunch menu, with some nice New Orleans twists.
Let’s start with the salad. It tasted like a salad should – healthy, not like a lettuce leaf soaked in sodium water. And the dressing was yummy. I also ordered a plain burger and it was delicious. The table ordered a small order of fries and that was enough, the order was huge. My sister and dad ordered the Eggs Benedict Po boy and it was lovely. I could not eat too much because of the raw egg factor, but they both loved it. And my husband ordered the Eggs Stanley, which had cornmeal-crusted P&J’s Louisiana oysters, poached eggs, Canadian bacon and Creole Hollandaise on a toasted English Muffin. I would also highly recommend this dish. There was actually nothing that I can caution anyone against ordering at Stanley. It was all good.
I am not going to go into this portion too much. Because there was not a lot of food consumed, unless you consider hops a meal. But we were lucky enough to get a private tour of the Nola Brewing Company. And I believe they give tours on the first Fridays of the month. Do yourself a favor, if you are beer lover, make a trip here!
For Saturday night we celebrated my brother’s 33rd birthday at Cochon a restaurant that specializes in making cuisine out of random pig parts. While I am inspired by their innovation, when you are nine weeks pregnant pig parts don’t sound very appealing. But it was my brother’s choice, so we all went. It was a very large group that included our immediate family, a couple of my brother’s friends and my Aunt Mary and our cousins Anna and Clare. Hence, I will not be going over everyone’s meals. I will pick a few to highlight.
What’s interesting to me about Cochon is their inspiration appears to be derived from meat, but their vegetables are what really stood out for me. I did have a side of ribs, but to me they were just so-so, nothing special. Also, Chris ordered their signature dish which was their Louisiana cochon with cracklins. Essentially it’s pulled pork. And he found it to be very boring. But my word, their squash salad and squash blossoms were out of this world. The salad was fresh and summer-y and full of flavor. The squash blossom was delicious itself, but the pickled vegetables on the side were an incredible complement to blossoms. Another standout was the macaroni and cheese. It was lovely, it had a homemade cheese sauce that was crispy brown on the top and was just perfect.
Our last night in New Orleans we went to Luke’s. This was my choice and all in all it was pretty good. It was not as good as I thought it would be, but the service was awesome.
My sister started off by ordering a yummy Alsatian appetizer called flamenküche , it’s an onion tarte with bacon, caraway and Emmenthaler cheese. It wads divine.
Dad ordered the assiette de charcuterie which looked delicious. I could not eat it as it involved various meat spreads, one of the many things pregnant women are deprived of.
And lastly Chris ordered the bisque, which was very good. It was not too salty and had nice chunks of crawfish in it.
For the entrees most of the table ordered the burger. And I had a bite, it was pretty tasty. Apparently Luke is known for it’s burgers, which is a little odd as it’s a fancy French/Alsatian restaurant in a hotel. For my dinner I ordered the crabmeat ravioli. I was a little disappointed in my dinner. The portions were small and the meal was essentially one-note and bland. Chris ordered the poulet grand mere – an herb roasted local chicken with bacon and whipped potatoes. This sounded very good to me, but it ended up being VERY salty. So if you are not a salt fan, do not order this dish. My father ordered the pasta with crispy pork belly and clams. He loved it! I had a bit and I thought it was a very nice dish. The pork was cooked perfectly and the fresh pasta was delicious.
For dessert we ordered two portions of the basque vanilla cake with creme fraiche and blueberries. That was a winner! The cake was super moist and the creme fraiche with the blueberries was a great combination.
In summary, I would say this culinary adventure to New Orleans was a mixed bag. A few of the dishes were impeccable, but overall most of the restaurants themselves did not shine. Let me know if you all have any other New Orleans restaurants you love!